“Music washes away from the soul, the dust of everyday life.”
Berthold Auerbach (1812–1882), German-Jewish poet and author
We believe that music is an integral part of our community. It binds us together, helps us express ourselves, and is a part of our being. It can tell a story – our history, another culture’s experience – or let us escape to an imaginary world. We believe that a complete education includes music and that our mission of academic excellence is supported by the inclusion of a multi-faceted music program.
Music is a universal language. Students at Rockwern learn the language of music so that they can communicate through it with the world. A primary goal of our music program is for our students to be able to express a range of emotions through singing, dancing, playing instruments, composing, and listing to music. As a result, they learn that music is a part of who they are.
Music education should help foster the joy of music. It should enable every student to experience the beauty of music as seen through various cultures, styles, and periods of history. Music helps our students recognize that they are part of the world. The process of making music helps them to work as a group, as they learn to listen to one another, work toward a common goal, and have fun doing it.
Rockwern Academy strives to help students not only become musically literate, but also carry the joy of music with them wherever they go. We hope that they will become confident performers, sensitive listeners, and innovative creators of music.
Music is also integrated with the Judaic and General Studies curricula to help teach concepts. Judaic Studies teachers also work with the music teacher in planning programs for holidays, life events, and teaching Jewish values.
Rockwern students have the opportunity to begin their music education at the young age of eighteen months and continue through 8th grade. Each year, they build upon their learning through the ideals of Kodaly and Orff-Schulwerk principles. Students are exposed to music from other cultures as well as their own Jewish heritage through singing, dancing, and playing Orff instruments.
Starting in kindergarten, students begin understanding beat, various rhythms and pitch. Music principals are taught first by rote, and then by reading. By second grade, students understand the difference between beat and rhythm and can read, improvise, and compose using the C pent scale and basic rhythm patterns. The highlight of the year is the K-2nd grade musical, in which all students participate through singing, choreography, and acting.
Building on knowledge taught in previous years, students in grades 3-5 begin to learn more complicated rhythms and read more confidently on the music staff. They learn to perform in Orff music ensembles involving several parts on pitched and non-pitched instruments. They also begin in 3rd grade to sing in canons, and develop into strong 2-3 part singers by the 5th grade. In 5th grade, students begin learning to play recorders with a goal of being able to play in an ensemble using their recorders and Orff instruments. Students continue to learn musical concepts through singing, dancing, and playing instruments. They are also taught to play the piano, and play in piano ensembles.
By 6th grade, we hope that students will feel confident in reading music and performing in front of an audience. We seek to provide opportunities for students take their skills and to use this foundation to continue developing as musicians. For example, in 6th grade they compose music using a computer-based program. They also have the opportunity to choreograph performances, perform in more complicated ensembles, and perform as a soloist or in small ensembles. In past years, the 7th and 8th grades have been given choices in their music education, such as music and art history, world music drumming, piano, or participation in a school choir or musical performance.
Performances in Grades 3-8
The 3rd-8th grades perform together in a musical or music review each year. They participate together through singing, choreography, and instrument ensembles. Students are also given the opportunity to perform as a soloist, or in a small ensemble to highlight their skills.
Students also perform in the community for Jewish holidays and community events. We have performed at venues such as Music Hall, the Jewish Hospital, the Krohn Conservatory, Kroger stores, retirement villages, and Union Terminal. Our performances at Music Hall have been special, as we are proud to have been invited for the past five years to join a community interfaith choir at the annual Martin Luther King Day Celebration. We feel events like these promote our Jewish values of peace and harmony in our community.
After-school music classes are offered year-round at Rockwern and are always in demand. In addition, the annual music and art show, in which students sing, act, dance, and play instruments each year in the spring is always well attended.
Private voice and piano lessons are offered after school, as part of our after-school enrichment program. Students who participate also have the opportunity to perform in studio recitals, adjudicated events such as Ohio MTA Auditions Festival, and Ohio MTA community music performances and fund raisers.
Throughout their years at Rockwern, students are given the opportunity to attend music performances in and out of school. We take field trips to the Children’s Theatre, Music Hall, and the Aronoff Center for the Arts. In recent years, we have also had the following groups visit school: Bach to Boombox, School House Symphony, Cincinnati Opera, and Julian Toha’s “Just Imagine.” We have also had local musicians come to the classroom and perform for the students